It was clear immediately something was really wrong as Warriors forward David Lee squirmed on the court, grunting and grabbing the top of his right thigh.
“Ahhhh, I felt a pop,” Lee could be heard saying on the video of the injury.
He was knocked out of his first career playoff game early in the fourth quarter. The preliminary diagnosis is a strained right hip flexor.
The injury happened at the 11:34 mark of the fourth quarter. He drove down the right side of the key for a layup and was fouled in mid-air by Nuggets center JaVale McGee, knocking Lee off balance.
He came down on his right foot, which appeared to jam into the hardwood and causing an awkward contortion.
X-rays taken Saturday night were negative. Lee is scheduled to have an MRI on Sunday, which will determine the severity of his injury.
“You’re always worried about your teammate,” point guard Stephen Curry said. “You saw the look on his face when he went down. For him not to be able to finish the game, you knew it was something.”
According to WebMD, the hip flexors are a group of muscles — connecting the spine, the pelvis and the thigh bone — that move the hip forward when running and walking. A hip flexor strain is the stretching or tearing of one of those muscles, causing pain when the knee is raised.
There are three levels of hip flexor strains: Grade 1 (stretching), Grade 2 (partial tear) and Grade 3 (complete tear). The MRI will tell Warriors’ doctors if the hip flexor strain diagnosis is correct and which grade Lee sustained.
“It is unfortunate,” coach Mark Jackson said. “He is certainly a highlighted guy for us, somebody we count on.”
According to some quick research online (none of this is official, just wanted to get some ballparks because I know you you can get an unofficial diagnosis of which grade by the following parameters:
First Degree Strain
If you can move your leg to your chest without much discomfort, you most likely have a first degree strain. It can take anywhere from 48 hours to a week.
Second Degree Strain
If you had a lot of trouble moving your leg to your chest and had to stop part way through, you probably have a second degree pull. A second degree … needs to be taken care of extremely cautiously in order not to fully tear the injured area. This grade sidelines you for 3 to 4 weeks.
Third Degree Strain
If you can barely move your leg at all, you have a full tear of your muscle and requires a much longer time to heal. This takes a while.